Link to Story Masterlist: https://bit.ly/2XrTBmx
Audio Version: Coming soon!
- 40th Dimension, 61st Timeline
- Matoran Universe – Daxia
- 1,000 years after the Great Cataclysm
It’s time. Meet me in the hangar bay, Mars’ voice came echoing over a mental link to Knoxus, Raxus and Konpaku. Knoxus was at the firing range, doing his best to squeeze in as much elemental power training as he could before their team’s mission.
The message startled him, causing the last knife he threw to fly wildly off course. Almost immediately, he heard a simultaneous ‘Understood’ come in from the other two top agents. He sent back a response of his own, and nervously made his way out of the range. He wasn’t sure why, but he grabbed a standard issue dagger from a weapons rack on the way out, to add to his growing arsenal.
Following the signs to the hangar bay was a lot more challenging than Knoxus thought it would be. It was apparently deep underground, like most of the locations in the Order’s headquarters, but he couldn’t quite understand how an airship hangar could be underground. He knew he had seen multiple airships arriving and departing from Daxia during his time training with Tobduk, but he never managed to catch where they were coming from. Upon arriving at the hangar, however, he figured it out.
The hangar was huge, at least a couple hundred feet high, and it was lined with catwalks which were suspended above a deep basin of liquid protodermis. Somehow, the ceiling was also liquid protodermis, which was suspended in midair. Through the liquid ceiling, Knoxus could see the faint glow of the sunset reflecting off the towers of the island’s fortress, confirming his suspicions. The hangar extended from the side of the island out into the Protodermis Sea, and it was effectively, entirely underwater.
Mars, Raxus, and Konpaku were already waiting waiting in the hangar, looking impatient. Knoxus quickly shuffled over to them.
“Finally,” said Konpaku in an annoyed tone. “Though I was kind of hoping you’d be too scared to go.”
“Sorry, I’m not used to finding my own way around yet,” Knoxus said. “But I assure you, I don’t have any intention of disobeying orders.”
“Don’t apologise, Knoxus,” Mars said, stepping in between the two assassins. “Konpaku just recently got his title, so he’s a bit wary of competition.”
“Just stay out of my way, and we won’t have any problems,” Konpaku said, glaring at Mars.
“What a ray of sunshine,” Raxus said under his breath. “Are we ready to go yet?”
The group nodded. Mars waved to the control booth above the catwalk, and a gigantic, mechanical arm carrying a specialized Order of Mata Nui airship soon moved into position nearby. The four agents boarded the airship, which took off automatically.
From inside the airship, Knoxus watched as they passed through the liquid ceiling of the hangar. Waves of liquid protodermis cascaded over the dome-shaped glass hull of the airship, until it finally surfaced, and took to the skies.
“Alright, before I go over the plan, does anyone have any questions?” Mars spoke up, his tone implying ‘anyone’ meant ‘Knoxus.’
“How long until we reach Destral?” Knoxus asked. “I can’t imagine it’ll still be dark by the time we get there.”
The group stared blankly at him. Konpaku even shook his head.
“…The ride’s only a couple minutes, boss,” Mars responded. “Our airships can teleport.”
“…Oh…” Knoxus felt embarrassed, but the realization of how soon they’d be in Brotherhood territory instantly replaced that feeling with dread. “…So… how many Makuta will we be facing?”
“With any luck, none,” Mars said, obviously trying to lighten the mood. “The Brotherhood’s movements have gotten increasingly aggressive lately, and we suspect their forces are so thinly spread that their headquarters is largely abandoned — at least, by Makuta. We should expect to see plenty of Rahkshi.”
Rahkshi. He’d heard about them from Tobduk during training, but couldn’t imagine what facing one would be like. They were known as the ‘Sons of the Makuta,’ but they were really just slug-like creatures called Kraata which pilot mechanical suits of armor. They’re supposedly very dangerous if you don’t know how to properly deal with them, which was exactly the case for Knoxus.
Mars continued, “You all know the mission, but I was able to squeeze a few more details about our target outta Helryx before we left. The artifact we’re lookin’ for is a small crystal ball which is roughly the size of a Madu Fruit, and it’s called the Infinium Orb.”
“What does this artifact do?” Raxus chimed in. “If it’s anything like yours, Mars, it could be useful.”
“She wouldn’t say. For some reason, I don’t think she trusted me with that information,” Mars replied sarcastically, finishing his sentence with a wink. “Our mission is to get that artifact, and get out as fast as possible with — you guessed it — no witnesses.”
Knoxus looked behind the airship, watching his latest home shrinking over the horizon. Suddenly, the view surrounding the airship changed, and they were now flying through thick, black clouds. He looked back ahead, just as the island of Destral appeared before them.
The island was roughly crescent shaped, and its craggy surface had been almost completely covered in an extensive, citylike fortress. The fortress’ architecture was sinister and alien-looking, reminiscent of the airship he had seen flying over Stelt in his Matoran days. From the center of the island, five tall, cylindrical towers reached into the sky. The towers were dotted with searchlights which scanned the surface of the island and the surrounding towers. Thankfully, their airship was concealed in the clouds, for now.
Raxus stepped up to the pilot’s control panel which had been automatically guiding them to this destination until now. He turned the airship to face away from the island, and activated a cloaking system that rendered the entire airship completely invisible.
A ramp opened up at the back of the airship, and the group stepped up to the edge.
“Try to land on your feet this time, okay boss?” Mars said, nudging Knoxus’ arm.
“You heard about that?” Knoxus said.
Mars laughed, “I hear about everything!”
Konpaku groaned and pushed his way to the front of the group, jumping out of the airship without any hesitation. Mars shrugged and jumped out as well, using his staff’s levitation to slow his descent. Knoxus watched Raxus switch out his Kanohi for a Mask of Flight just as he jumped as well. Knoxus took a deep breath, flipped open his gauntlet’s boosters, and dove out of the airship.
He followed Raxus’ lead, using his gauntlets only to make minor adjustments to his course. He watched as Raxus landed gracefully next to Konpaku and Mars on one of the four outer towers of the fortress. Knoxus made his own preparations for landing by kicking his legs ahead, aiming his gauntlets forward, and firing.
The flames leapt from his gauntlets swiftly, without any fireballs. The jets quickly and steadily lowered his speed, allowing him to set his feet gently to the ground. The group then huddled against the tower wall, trying to stay out of view of the searchlights.
“Okay, let’s split into 3 groups, assassins, soldiers, and spies,” Mars whispered. “Search the fortress for a vault or armory, and let the others know if you find anything. The second one of us finds the artifact, we all rendezvous at their location. Is that clear?”
Raxus and Knoxus nodded, but the group quickly noticed that Konpaku had already taken off on his own.
Mars sighed, “Alright Knoxus, I guess you’re with me. Communicate only through mental links from here on out.”
Raxus split off from the group, choosing to make his way down the tower they landed on, leaving Mars and Knoxus to make their way over the bridge connecting to the central tower. The way was clear, so far. The only movement they saw were the beams of light from the spotlights.
This isn’t so bad, Knoxus communicated through mental link with Mars. I was expecting more resistance.
Just as he finished that thought, Mars stuck his hand out to stop Knoxus. He held a finger to his mask signaling for Knoxus to be silent, then pointed around the curve of the central tower.
Patrolling along the walkway ahead was a blue-armored Rahkshi, who was clearly acting as a guard for the fortress. The creature was about the same height as Knoxus, but it’s footsteps were eerily quiet, as if it’s mechanical body was as light as air. The Kraata within it’s armored body clicked and hissed as if it were talking to itself.
Mars looked at Knoxus, flicking his hat up. Watch and learn, boss, he sent. Suddenly, Mars stepped out from around the corner, revealing himself to the Rahkshi. It seemed startled at first, but quickly shifted into an attack stance, hissing all the while. Knoxus couldn’t believe it – the Order’s best spy had just willingly revealed his position to the enemy.
Mars’ next move was so fast that Knoxus almost missed it. He dipped forward, spun his staff around, and used it to send a bolt of lightning straight into the Rahkshi’s head. The Kraata’s hiss was instantly replaced by the sizzle of burning flesh, and the Rahkshi’s body fell forward, which Mars caught before it hit the ground.
That’s how you deal with a Rahkshi, Mars sent, quietly setting down the creature’s limp body. If you aim right for the Kraata, you can kill ‘em instantly.
Knoxus nodded, eyes still full of amazement. While Mars’ methods were unorthodox, they were undoubtedly effective. The two continued scaling the tower for a while, checking rooms and hallways the entire way until stopping about halfway up. So far, they had not encountered any more Rahkshi, or found the artifact. At this point, Knoxus was beginning to feel nervous. They still hadn’t heard anything from Raxus or Konpaku.
I could’ve sworn it was around here, Mars linked to Knoxus.
Could’ve sworn what was around here? Knoxus responded.
Mars turned to look at Knoxus. This isn’t my first trip to Destral, boss. I know somewhere up this tower there’s a locked room that I’ve been wantin’ to break into for years. If that ain’t our artifact’s hidin’ spot, I dunno what is.
Their mental conversation was interrupted by the sound of more footsteps echoing down a nearby hallway. However, these footsteps didn’t belong to any Rakhshi. Mars and Knoxus scurried into a dark room to one side of the hallway, out of sight. As the footsteps grew louder, Knoxus carefully peeked outside to catch a glimpse at who they belonged to.
A crimson and purple armored Makuta lumbered right past the doorway, his clawed feet scraping against the floor as he moved. It took Knoxus a second, but he recognized the Makuta as he passed. The last time he had seen this Makuta was during the attack on Stelt, after Knoxus shot him out of the sky. This was the same Makuta that had murdered Kronos.
Knoxus grabbed the hilt of his sword, wanting desperately to rush out of the side room and run this Makuta through with it, but Mars held him back.
Makuta Tridax, Mars sent. He’s responsible for watchin’ over Destral at the moment, so they’ll notice if he goes missin’. Don’t worry, he’ll get what’s comin’ to him, eventually.
Knoxus took a deep breath, trying to suppress his rage. As he released his sword, he saw a shadow move out of the corner of his eye. He lurched back into the room just as a black-armored Rahksi stepped through the doorway, searching the area. The two agents slinked further back into the shadows, but Mars gave Knoxus a nudge forward. Knoxus looked at him, and Mars nodded toward the Rahkshi, implying Knoxus should take it out.
Knoxus turned toward the Rakhshi, whose back was facing him. He quietly drew his dagger, and stepped up behind the monster. He knew what he needed to do, but wasn’t sure how smoothly he could pull it off. Hesitantly, he reached out with his empty hand, and tapped the Rahkshi on the shoulder.
The creature spun around, and just as it’s eyes locked with Knoxus’, he swung the dagger up and into the unarmored underside of the Rahksi’s head. The dagger quietly sunk into the Kraata’s exposed skin, and the Rahkshi collapsed into a heap before Knoxus.
Excellently done, assassin, Mars’ voice echoed into Knoxus’ mind. You seem to learn quickly. Mars pat Knoxus on the shoulder as he exited the side room. Knoxus looked down at his hands, which were covered in a green substance that had leaked out of the Kraata’s body. It began quickly evaporating into a green smoke, which itself slowly dissipated. He didn’t feel very good, even though his first kill went off without a hitch. However, he had a mission to do. After shaking his hands and dagger clean, he reluctantly followed Mars out of the room.
Roughly an hour had passed and Mars and Knoxus were almost done clearing the center tower of the Destral Fortress. They had finally heard back from Raxus, who had discovered the fortress’ armory, but still had yet to find any leads on the artifact. The three were getting worried about Konpaku, until he suddenly chimed in to the mental network.
I’ve found something, but I don’t think it’s what we’re looking for, Konpaku reported. There appears to be some sort of teleportation room underneath the fortress. There’s a Kanohi Olmak here and everything. There’s also these weird stasis tubes — which I’m not going anywhere near. I’m getting a bad feeling just standing in this room.
Any evidence pointin’ to the artifact? Mars asked.
There’s nothing else here, but someone’s clearly been busy, and recently too. The Rahkshi patrols around here are ridiculous. I’m going to keep at it. I’ll let you know if I find anything else.
Roger that, Mars linked. After hearing that conversation, Knoxus couldn’t help but notice that Konpaku acted a lot more professional on the job than off-duty. The two agents continued their sweep, making their way closer to the top of the tower.
About 10 minutes later, Mars came to a sudden stop. They were standing on the outer walkway of the central tower, about three quarters of the way to the top. Mars had a stupid grin on his face as he stood facing a large, hatched doorway.
“Oh yeah, this is it,” Mars said under his breath. Knoxus panicked when he heard Mars’ whisper, looking around frantically to see if anyone heard.
Knoxus, your skills are needed here. Use your elemental powers to get this door open, Mars ordered Knoxus over the link.
Okay, I’ll try, Knoxus responded. He placed his hand on the hatched doorway, and felt around using his elemental powers. The door was at least five inches thick, and made of solid iron. It would take something as strong as a Kane-Ra Bull to break this door down, but theoretically, his powers should allow him to manipulate it. He tried using them to open the latch mechanically, but the locking mechanism was much too complex for him to figure out.
Mars tapped his foot impatiently as Knoxus continued fiddling with the door. No matter what he tried, the door simply had too much metal for him to manipulate at once. In a last ditch effort, Knoxus tried to just simply bust a hole through the door, but the best he could manage was a small dent.
Well, anything? Mars asked, sounding annoyed, even as a mental voice. Knoxus just shrugged, feeling defeated.
How about this? Reach out with your elemental powers and tell me what’s behind the door. This base is made entirely out of stone and metal, so you can at least tell us if we’re wastin’ our time.
Knoxus pressed his hand up against the door once again, only this time, he extended his elemental sense as far as he could get it to go. He regretted this instantly, however, as behind this heavy metal door was another one just like it.
Finally, past the fifth door, there was a room, at the center of which was a metal pedestal. Knoxus couldn’t detect anything atop the pedestal, however there was a curious, spherical indent directly in the center, which matched the artifact’s size description exactly.
It’s gotta be in there. If not, this is one seriously sick joke, Knoxus sent, exasperated.
Team, meet me on the southwest side of the middle tower, three quarters of the way up. We’ve found our artifact, Mars announced over the mental link. The remaining two agents acknowledged the order, and began making their way to the rendezvous point.
Now, watch my back while I pick this lock, Mars linked to Knoxus. Unless your elemental powers suddenly start workin’. Okay, boss?”
20 minutes later, the team was still trying to get through the first door. Raxus had met up with them, but there was still no sign of Konpaku. Turns out, Knoxus had accidentally jammed the locking mechanism when he initially tried to get the door open. Raxus had resorted to using his elemental control over plasma to slice his way through the lock, but it was taking a while. The group couldn’t help but get the feeling they were running out of time.
How much longer do you think this’ll take, Raxus? Mars linked. I mean, they don’t call you the Solar Soldier for nothin’. Burnin’ this lock should be easy for you!
Normally it would be, but I need to keep it down. I can’t just blow a hole in the side of the Brotherhood’s Headquarters, Mars, Raxus replied.
Knoxus looked over as the two top agents squabbled. He didn’t like being in the same area for this long. Staying out of the spotlights alone was bad enough, but it was only a matter of time until one of the Rahkshi patrols came by. As Knoxus turned around to resume keeping watch, he froze.
A red-colored Rahkshi had just stepped out onto the walkway. It quickly noticed the three Toa standing there, and aimed it’s staff directly at them. Raxus and Mars also noticed the Rahkshi, moving for their weapons immediately. Knoxus watched as a crimson energy charged from the Rahkshi’s staff. Without thinking, he thrust his arms at the Rahkshi. Tendrils of Iron Elemental Energy radiated from Knoxus’ hands. They latched onto the Rahkshi’s mechanical body, ricocheting through it’s metal structure like an electric current, and forcing the Rahkshi backwards, straight off the side of the tower.
Mars and Raxus rushed to the edge, but it was already too late. They watched in bewilderment as the flailing Rahkshi loudly crashed through the roof of a building hundreds of feet below. The spotlights quickly locked onto the crater, and an alarm sounded throughout the entire island. They were out of time.
Get that door open, now! Mars shouted over the mental link. Raxus immediately began burning through the lock again, showing much less restraint with his powers than before. Mars readied himself to fight, motioning to Knoxus to defend the other side of the walkway.
Now that the Fortress was on high alert, Rahkshi could be seen swarming the pathways and bridges all over the island. Almost immediately, Mars was dealing with a pair of yellow Rahkshi on his side of the walkway. Knoxus drew his sword and readied himself for action.
The door to his side of the walkway suddenly slid open, and staring him down were seven Rahkshi of various armor colors. Knoxus gulped as the entire patrol of Rahkshi lunged at him simultaneously. He jumped back, swiping with his sword at one of them. Green liquid sprayed from the Rahkshi’s neck as it crumpled to the ground. However, the remaining six pressed their attack, driving Knoxus back to the edge of the walkway.
Knoxus, look out! Mars called out over the mental link, just barely managing to get a glimpse of how Knoxus was doing while dealing with his own legion of Rahkshi. Knoxus looked at the precarious drop behind him, then back at the Rahkshi. One of them was charging toward him with it’s staff pointed directly at his chest.
Preferring not to get stabbed, Knoxus jumped backwards off the tower, sending the charging Rahkshi careening to it’s doom. With a swift activation of his rocket gauntlets, he propelled himself back over the squad of Rahkshi that was assaulting him, placing them in the position he was in moments earlier.
Suddenly, Knoxus felt a blast of air whiz past him. He stumbled back as the remaining five Rahkshi’s heads all came flying off simultaneously in fountains of green liquid and smoke. Crouching next to them was Konpaku, who was wielding a glowing, half-transparent blade. He stood slowly as the glowing blade shrank into its hilt. The glowing orb that usually followed him around emerged from the other end of the hilt, taking its place beside him once more.
“How did you do that?” Knoxus said aloud, forgetting to use the mental network.
Konpaku’s eyes shifted toward stunned Toa. “This blade is forged from my very spirit. There’s nothing it can’t cut.”
“‘Bout time you showed up!” Mars shouted over the sound of the Rahkshis’ hissing. “Could’ve used your help ages ago!”
“What did you guys do? There’s Rahkshi everywhere, and Tridax is on his way!” Konpaku shouted back.
Guys! Inside voices please! Raxus shouted over the mental link.
Right, sorry, Konpaku responded. What’s the ETA on that door?
Not soon enough, Raxus sent. I’m afraid this mission might be a blast.
Knoxus wasn’t sure how anyone could describe this mission as a blast, but the grim expressions of Mars and Konpaku made him realize there was some meaning to that word he was missing.
Mars finished off the last Rahkshi he was engaged with and shook his head. No, we’re not lettin’ it come to that. Not this time. He marched forward, pushing Konpaku out of the way as he removed a small object from the head of his staff. Everyone, stand back.
No, wait! Mars, DON’T! Raxus shouted over the link once again.
Mars suddenly took a sturdy stance, and pointed the object he had removed from his staff at the door. The object was small and cylindrical, with a crystal lens on top. As he braced himself, the sides of the object split apart into tiny segments, which began spinning around behind the crystal lens with incredible speed. A spark appeared in the middle of the spinning objects, which quickly grew and grew in intensity until the light it emitted was blinding. Suddenly, a deafening sound echoed across the island of Destral.
The sound was so loud it drowned out the Fortress’ alarm system. As the sound and light faded, Knoxus was shocked to see a gaping, smoldering hole had appeared in the center of all five doors leading into the chamber. Konpaku suddenly rushed out of the chamber, as if he was already inside before Mars did… whatever he just did. He handed a small, crystal orb to Mars, who was waving smoke off the object he just used to blow a hole in the side of the Brotherhood’s Headquarters. The Infinium Orb was theirs.
Target acquired, Mars sent with satisfaction. Now for Mata Nui’s sake, let’s get outta here!
The entire group nodded and immediately took off toward the airship. Konpaku held on to Mars’ staff as the group ascended into the air. After landing in the airship, Knoxus looked back to see Makuta Tridax step out onto the walkway just as the airship was vanishing into the clouds. Somehow, they had managed to cause all that commotion without being seen by the Makuta or his surviving Rahkshi minions. Best of all, they were now on their way back to the safety of Daxia — his first ever mission complete.
“That was way too close for comfort,” Raxus sighed, collapsing into the pilot seat.
“No thanks to you three,” Konpaku sneered.
“I prefer doing things this way. Much more entertainin’,” Mars said with a sly smile. He tucked the Infinium Orb into a satchel that he had left on the airship.
“Hey, what did Raxus mean earlier?” Knoxus spoke up.
“What’re you talkin’ about, boss?” Mars replied.
“Blast. I didn’t quite get what that meant.”
The airship suddenly got quiet. Mars looked to Raxus and then to Konpaku, who both quickly looked away.
“…Er, blast is shorthand for Nova Blast. It’s somethin’ we Toa can do to release all our internal elemental energy at once. Unfortunately, it comes at a cost…,” Mars said, scratching his head.
“What cost?” Knoxus said, now even more confused.
“…Order’s gotta stay a secret, boss. Therefore we can’t be captured.”
“…Does this mean what I think it means?”
Konpaku spoke up, “It’s the only surefire way to guarantee that we don’t get captured, and that we don’t leave witnesses. Depending on the type of elemental blast, everything in a 70 foot radius dies, including you.”
Mars winced at Konpaku’s words, but held up his hands. “That’s it in a cowrie shell.”
Knoxus couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He knew the Order was going to ask a lot from their members, but are they really so protective of their secrets that they require their Toa to die to withhold them?
They spent the rest of the short airship ride in silence, their mood soured by the discussion. Upon returning to the Order hangar on Daxia, they found Helryx herself waiting to meet them. The four Toa approached their leader and saluted. Helryx nodded and held out her hand. Mars immediately retrieved the Infinium Orb from his satchel, and handed it to Helryx.
“Congratulations on another successful mission, agents,” Helryx said with a smile. “I can see that our new recruit is no worse for wear.” Knoxus returned her comment with a half smile.
Helryx chuckled softly. “You may return to training again tomorrow, Knoxus. You’ve done well. As for the rest of you, it’s time to begin preparations for war. Get some rest, and wait for further assignments in the morning.”
Mars stepped forward. “If I may, mistress. What is the next step in your plan?”
Helryx smiled. “I’ll be reaching out to some old friends of yours. We’re going to need all the help we can get to put Teridax down for good. Now that the Infinium Orb is out of his hands, we can finally come out of hiding. I can only hope that this war will be short, for our sake.”
Mars seemed somewhat astonished by the news, but saluted to Helryx nonetheless. Helryx turned and left, leaving the four Toa in silent awe. One by one, the top agents of the Order followed suit, leaving Knoxus in the hangar, alone. He stood there for a bit, wondering if dying to keep the Order’s secrets would be preferable to dying in a war that was about to begin.
End of Chapter 5
Link to Story Masterlist: https://bit.ly/2XrTBmx